Friday Fictioneers – Three Of Me

(Author’s note: Starting next week, I will be taking a social media break. It will not impact writing, but contact on Twitter, Gab, and Facebook will be curbed for one month. E-mail will be alright, if you need to. Here’s today’s Fictioneers…)

broken-face-liz

© Liz Young

The Three Of Me

by Miles H. Rost

 If you could see what I’ve seen, you’d swear I was not normal.

I’m not.

On one hand, I see like a child. Innocence, virtue, trust, all in one place. One another hand, I see death, vindictiveness, the decay of the world. And on the third hand, the one never seen, there’s pain, deception, and even love.

Every slap a betrayal, every push a declaration of love, every tear a cry for relief and comfort. And each time I am asked the same question: Is it all worth it?

For these children marked from substance abuse: You’re damn right.

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Friday Fictioneers – I’m Not Home

(Author’s notes: Sorry for not being as productive lately. It’s been a really tough time here in the land down under, and because of all that’s going on, my attention has been on getting myself stable, then getting myself out of here. I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my stories the last two weeks and giving me great feedback. You all make me so proud. Here is today’s fictioneers story.) 

 

I’m Not Home

by Miles H. Rost

Heidi Markham glared at her mother.

“We’ve been coming to Dad’s grave for 14 years. I’m about to graduate. You never told me what happened to him.”
“I guess it is that time,” her mother sighed, sitting down next to the flat gravestone, “Your dad came back from the Gulf, and he wasn’t right. But he always told me he was, so I didn’t say much about it.”

Heidi slowly knelt down by her Mom.

“He never told anyone. He never told me!”

She started to sob. Heidi hugged her, tears flowing down her face.

“He was too stubborn to ask for help, and he took his life. He never truly made it home.”

Her Last Performance (aka Lothlorien)

Her Last Performance
(aka Lothlorien)
a story by Miles H. Rost

The sway of her foot was the start of everything.

Sandy closed her eyes off from the rest of the audience, as she moved her body to the sound of the music. She wanted this time, this period, to be focused on her and all the good she could do.

Sandy remembered her pain from nine months ago, as she swung her leg around and jumped onto the ball of her right foot. She remembered the stage, and the warning from the front of the house, two seconds too late. She remembered the air below her, the crash onto the metal chairs below in the orchestra pit.

She recalled the pain of the ambulance ride as she twirled once and lept across the stage. The heat and electricity burning up and down her entire right side as she was driven to the hospital she understood well. The words of her doctor, telling her that she would never dance again, and her response of “That never stopped me in the past,” were ringing through her head.

A tear fell down her porcelain face as she remembered the nights of tears into her pillow, and the calls of Psalm 6 from her lips. The cries of being weary, as she worked on walking again; the continued tears as she slept on her bed; the afternoons of crying into the arm of her couch. As she pirouetted in the center of the stage, she saw her friend’s face. She remembered his hands, as they dried her tears and put medicine on her eyes when she had an eye infection as she recovered.

Tonight, though, tonight was it. She was able to make it through, and as she finished with a gentle falling splits, she helped put a cap on the year’s dancing. The crowd cheered loudly at Sandy’s return, the last performance of the year.

She would be back the next year. She would be better than ever.

Must I Always Remember

Must I Always Remember
by Miles Rost

Even with success, the specter of loss hung around his head like a bad cold.

Patrick Dumont was not an unhappy man, by any means. He was charming with all the folks, a man of character and integrity, and even fairly successful with his new business ventures. In all, he should be celebrating his life in great ways.

Yet, alone in his apartment, his head between his knees, he wasn’t even celebrating.

It started earlier in the day. Looking through his finance books, he knew that everything was going alright and that there were not going to be problems for the next couple months. But that nagging feeling was there, telling him “Hey, you’re finances are not as stable as they should be.”

As the day wore on, he got more and more worried. As the worries built, the memories of old days came flooding forth like a raging flood breaching an earthen dam. The more the worries piled on top, the more depressed he became. He took off from work early, and just went straight home.

As he sat in that apartment, head between knees and tears falling down his face, he remembered the many times of worry he had in the past. He heard the words of people telling him that if he didn’t plan for his future, he’d have nothing. That if he wasn’t paying attention, everything would fall around him.

He remembered his family as it came apart in pieces, like a car losing it’s parts as it drove along. His family splitting apart from divorce, his father becoming despondent after losing his job, his younger brother jumping off a high bridge to end his life after getting a failing score on his final test. He even remembered his own loss of the first business he started, a hedge clipping business.

Then there was Hannah. The girl that gave him so much passion, and so much life. He wanted to keep her in his heart always, always having that chance of being able to see her again. That is, until he heard the phone call.

“Patrick, I’m pregnant.”
“Who’s the father?”
“I’m….not sure.”

He screamed out, cried, and put himself into fits while dealing with all of these things that came forth from his head. For 4 straight hours, he was in agony. Four hours of crying, sobbing, screaming into his sweatshirt. It seemed as though he would be crying for many more hours.

Suddenly, he sat up. He dried his eyes, and looked around. He blinked a few times, looking at the fluorescent lights reflecting from the outside window into his apartment, casting glow over shadows. His eyes, even in the dark, cleared up.

“I have no need to remember this.”

His words had steel behind them. It was the sound of determination. Whatever he had just went through was done, and he finally stood up. He smiled, as he put his jacket on.

He was free to enjoy life again. He was free from his pain, his grief, and that feeling of holding onto something.

It was time…for a beer.

 

Changing Tides

Changing Tides
(aka Mayumi’s Story, Part II)
by Miles Rost

The old pangs were just like torture.

The old desires, the old needs, all of them were trying to drop Mayumi in her tracks. And damn if she was going to let it.

It had been nearly three weeks since her ex-boyfriend was sent packing across the Outback on his motorcycle, with her hoping he’d never return. She examined herself fully to see how she was, and for the first couple of weeks, it seemed to be alright. She was getting by on her work at the radio station, spending lots of time working radio traffic during the week and hitting up the 7-10 shift at Shine FM on the weekends. With one day off on Mondays, it was a nice job to have, especially dealing with all the stuff she had to deal with.

What she didn’t expect was those old pangs coming back. The feelings that she had still stuck around, the residual mess that was left to be cleaned up.

The pangs were slow to creep up on her. Just a little reminder of the way her boyfriend used to hold her, at a time when she was vulnerable; or a little reminder of the gentle kiss that he’d give her while they watched wrestling on TV. Small things like these kept popping into her mind as the days progressed.

It was a Friday afternoon, and as she got home, that she felt the old feeling of loneliness and desire pop back into her life. The indicators were there before, however.

——

12:45PM, Friday

The papers were all stacked up on her desk. Inputs for commercials and liners were ready to be processed. She picked up one of the requests and started to write on the page. As the pen ran across the sheet of wood pulp, her knuckle started to ache. It was a small ache at first. As she processed each request, the ache got worse and her emotions started to run a bit higher. After a half an hour, she sat back and rubbed her hands across her face, ending with one going through her sandy-gray hair.

“Hey, Mayumi. You okay?”

Mayumi looked at her deskmate, Kelsey. A fresh-faced Sydney graduate, buxom and smart, Kelsey seemed to have a second sense to when problems were about to start.

“Yeah, Kel. Ah just have a lot on m’plate. That’s all.”

Kelsey looked at her through strands of her dark chocolate brown hair, and squinted.

“I don’t believe that for a second. In a half an hour, you can get through a stack like that on your desk. You’ve only gotten through half. What’s going on?”

Mayumi sighed, as she continued to process the paperwork.

“Ah’m just still dealing with my ex.”

“I see. Still haven’t been able to let him go, have ya?”

“Ah let him go. It’s just hard to let the memories fade, y’know.”

Kelsey pursed her lips, as she thought carefully. The brunette scratched her hair with a pencil, while she thought.

“It was two weeks ago, right? And how long were you together.”

“Yeah. And we were “together” for over 8 years. High school sweethearts and all that junk.”

“Ow,” Kelsey grimaced, a slight twinge of pain going through her face.

Mayumi sighed and looked at her friend.

“What’s bad is that ah know when my emotions are overwhelming me. The aching in my knuckle tells me.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, ever since ah had this depressive episode back in ’06. Whenever ah have too much emotion, and ah’m about ready to cry or needing to release, it screams at me.”

“Maybe you should take the rest of the day off. I mean, you haven’t taken a day in the year I’ve been here, and you are probably going through some major league withdrawal if it was that bad.”

Mayumi thought about it for a few moments, and looked at her paperwork. She did get part of it done already, but she didn’t want to leave until she finished her work.

Kelsey looked at her again, and sighing audibly, she put her hands out. She told her, without words, ‘Give them to me. You need rest’.

After a few moments of writing the last page on her desk, she gave the stack of papers to her sympathetic comrade and registered her sick leave request with the manager. Getting it approved. she popped into her vehicle and raced home.

—-

She was already into the apartment when she dropped her keys on the floor. She didn’t even notice them, as she stumbled into her ornately decorated bedroom. Falling upon the bed, she grabbed a full length pillow and hugged it tightly. Tears started to flow down her face, dropping it’s salty emotion onto the sleeve of her light silk blouse. She held onto the pillow for dear life, as her mind raced through the emotions that were bombarding her from all direction.

She cried as she recounted the feeling of his touch on her skin, the longing of wanting that touch on her body. The warmth of his hands on each of her shoulders was still firm in her mind.

Mayumi’s mind was in agony as she went through all sorts of memories. She didn’t know what to do with all of them, with all the extra energy that she had without directing so much of it toward her idiot ex. The “good memories” were the ones that caused her the grief she was experiencing, though at times the bad memories came surging upward, forcing a scream into her pillow as she recounted the numerous numbers of abusive barbs.

You’re not worth the time, Yumi.

That was the one that hurt the most for her. It was one of the last things that the idiot said to her the night before he left for parts unknown. 8 long years, and she had her time wasted.

She screamed out curses at his name, at the memories as the tears poured down her face like a mini-waterfall. Her blouse was becoming soaked with her tears, just like the pillow she held onto.

All of the desire that she had, the lust of her heart, the pain and memories, flowed out of her. The pain in her finger throbbed at all the emotion coming from her.

The culmination of the three weeks of stress and all the old feelings had burst forth from it’s prison. As she sank into what would be called a deep sleep, in the last vestige of her consciousness, she saw a vision of an old tree chopped into firewood, and a hole filled with dirt.

Finally, she was facing all those emotions head on. And the healing would begin in earnest.

Roll With It

by Miles Rost

The piano lid slammed down.

“OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!”

Such was Paul Picard’s day. Ever since he woke up in the morning, he was hitting one snag after another. The piano lid’s anger towards him finally drove Paul to break his streak of non-cursing. He waved his hands around like a maniac and cursed until he was blue in the face.

The door slammed, and a figure popped their head around the parlor’s doorframe.

“Dude! I can hear you from the other side of town!”

Paul looked at his  best friend, Mark Bieganek, as he lowered his voice to near nothing. He was still mouthing curses while waving his hands in anger and pain towards the piano.

“Yeah, I got it, Paul. But seriously, the pain’s not going to go away quickly no matter how much cursing you do.”

After another minute of trying to get the pain to go down, Paul swung his gaze straight towards Mark.

“If you knew the day I had, you’d probably be cursing, too. I have not done it for a year, and I know that I don’t have to do it, but there was no other option today.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, when I woke up, I reached for my alarm clock. The clock was too far away because my now ex-girlfriend moved it to the other side of the nightstand. So I ended up tumbling onto the floor with my face being planted into my smelly old sneakers, which I can say have now been sent to the recycling bin. Shall I go on?”

Mark looked at him, nodded his head, while mentally shaking it.

“Got to the shower, and lo and behold, it was all cold water, all the time! So I washed up and likely proceeded to get a cold starting tomorrow. But that’s not the worst of it.”

“Go on…”

“Next, I pick up the mail and there’s a letter from the IRS. It tells me that they think I haven’t been taking out the right deductions, so I’m going to get audited next week. They want 7 years of returns, and all of them are back at my dad’s place in Poughkeepsie. And it gets better!”

Mark waved his hands in front of his face and shook his head.

“Man, just hold up a bit. For just a moment, take a listen to yourself. What do you hear?”

“I hear a man who is not happy with the way things are going today, and who just got his fingers injured by a piano that hates him severely.”

Mark smirked, as he bore his eyes deep into Paul’s.

“What I hear is someone who isn’t able to let go.”

Paul looked at him, and his eyes started to flare up.

“Paul, you need to remember that when life is too much, you gotta roll with it.

“Roll with it?”

“Yeah, if you just take what’s happened and look at it as not a slight against you, but more like a challenge to make your day much better, you’ll just end up rolling with the punches.”

Paul walked out of the parlor, still shaking his hand out. He walked across the hall and into the kitchen, opening the freezer.

“Seriously? You’re giving me advice about rolling with it? When I feel like the world is against me?”

Mark chuckled.

“Are you hearing yourself, Paul? You sound like someone who is whining! You need to shake off the pain and get back out into the world. You can do it, just roll with it, baby!

Paul blinked, staring at Mark like he was an alien.

“As much as I want to punch you right now, Mark, you are absolutely right.”

“Great! So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to go upstairs, get a bandage on my hand, get something nice to wear, go outside, and punch someone!”

Mark was about to respond, when he froze. Paul’s words sank into his mind like melted butter, and his eyes got wide.

Paul walked over to him, and put his mouth next to his ear.

“Bazinga.”

Mark firmly planted his palm into his face, realizing that he just got himself played by his best friend.

“I guess that means we’re going out to the bar, right?”

Paul bounded towards the stairs, and jumped upon the first step.

“We’re going to the Starboard on this day. I think it’ll be better once I get an irish in me.”

Straight Tequila Night

by Miles Rost

It was another one of those nights for Denise. The aggravations of the daytime bled into her nighttime, ruining the mood she was trying to pick up at the local canteen.

Starting with a note on her computer at work from her boss, telling her that she was responsible for the company losing a major contract, her day went downhill from there. Computer problems, cars that refused to start, at least four customers who tried to use bad credit cards. Working as a car rental agent was stressful, but it wasn’t supposed to be THAT stressful.

And that was all before lunchtime.

Just after lunch came part II of her bad day gone worse. That’s when her ex-boyfriend, someone who she never should have hooked up with in the first place, walked in and started going on about his life with the airhead of the counter clerks. Denise warned her many times about him, but she just didn’t seem to get it, and started flirting in a major way with him.

The day finally ended, and she was able to go home and switch her clothes. Putting on a nice pair of blue jeans, a red t-shirt, and putting her long reddish-brown hair up in a ponytail, she took herself to the canteen to unwind and let her troubles go. She was already into her second tequila shot, and had a whiskey shot ready to go within a half an hour of arriving. She was just about at the point where the vent would be able to be shut off and she’d be able to savor the day.

The door opened up, and Denise looked back. The smile that was building on her face suddenly shattered into a billion pieces. Her face went from the nearest thing anyone would call joy to shock and disgust at the culprit who opened the door.

Patrick walked in.

She dreaded what was about to happen. She knew that he was interested in her, and he knew that she wasn’t interested in him. He walked over to the bartender and smiled that same greasy smile that he always had when he was on the prowl. She quickly turned around and prayed that nothing would happen.

“Scotch on the rocks for myself,” Patrick ordered, “And what is she drinking down there?”

The bartender looked up at him and gave him a warning eye.

“You don’t want to approach her tonight.”

“Why not? I figure she’s probably game for anything.”

Don’t ask her on a straight tequila night. She’ll start thinking about him, and she’ll kick your ass.”

Patrick laughed at the bartender, in a haughty laugh that all but advertised his arrogance.

“A young woman like her? She’s small. She couldn’t hurt anyone. Get her another tequila shot and tell her it’s on me.”

The bartender merely raised his hands, signaling that he had given the advice and he was now ready to serve. And he did so. He gave her the notice that Patrick was sending her a tequila shot.

She slumped her head against the bar, knowing that she would be unable to resist it, and the consequences that would come as a result. With a sigh, she downed the shot in one gulp. She held herself steady at the bar for about 26 seconds. She quickly whipped her eyes towards Patrick.

He looked at her, keeping that sleazy grin on his face, hoping that his charm would win her over.

He closed his eyes and took a sip of his scotch, then opened his eyes again. And he was looking into the black eyes of the woman that he was trying to pick up.

“You ignored the bartender.”

He looked into her eyes, and realized that he made an incredibly bad mistake.

“You remind me of my ex. That makes me mad,” she said calmly, as she launched him into the back room with a swift punch to his sternum.

For the next 20 minutes, Denise did to Patrick things that no one would ever have mentioned or would ever have believed. For folks at the canteen, this was merely another straight tequila night with Denise. And as the pain-filled screams of Patrick filled the bar, the people just kept talking and enjoying their time there.

She left the back room and walked to the bartender. She still had a serious look, but her eyes were no longer the deep black that Patrick had gazed into. She paid the bartender and told him to call a bus for the man, with the bartender giving a knowing nod.

So a little warning to all of you out there. When dealing with Denise, just remember her heart is on the mend. If you ever decide to see her, even again, don’t ask her on a straight tequila night.